Most cruises offer pre-paid add-on drinks packages, unless they are all-inclusive. These can be all alcohol packages, soft drinks or alternatives, such as unlimited speciality coffees.
The convenience and money you save can make these packages worthwhile, as well as the fact you don’t have to take large sums of extra cash on-board.
However, how do you know if they are right for you AND if you are actually saving money in the long run?
Firstly, know what you’re getting in your drinks package. Most soft drinks packages are only valid for soda on tap, not cans or bottles. Therefore, if you prefer these then you may be better off paying at the bar for your drinks. If you only drink wine then go for the wine packages, rather than the mixed drinks packages to save money.
Find out whether, as a couple or family travelling together, you all need to buy a drinks package or if you can buy them individually. If you have to buy packages for your entire stateroom, you may find that some of your party ends up losing money over the course of the trip. Alternatively, if you are allowed to buy them individually then why not buy one and see how much your partner or relative spends without one? Then you will know for future cruises.
Also consider your itinerary when making a decision about a drinks package. If you intend on heading to the ports quite often or plan on doing on-shore activities then you may not get good value out of the packages as you won’t be on-board a lot.
How much do they cost?
In general, drinks packages will cost between £5 and £60 per day (depending on the package and if it contains alcohol or not). Passengers can hope to save up to 35% with certain packages over the course of the cruise, which could make them quite tempting.
There is, of course, also the theory that if you buy a drinks package you can try out new things such as cocktails or speciality coffee drinks. A lot of the packages will include non-alcoholic beverages so if you fancy a fruit juice or sparkling water then you save money on those too.
The best thing to do is check with your particular cruise line what they are offering in terms of packages and decide whether you feel it would save you money and hassle throughout your trip.
Remember to check the small print. A lot of packages must be booked up to three days before departure and are for the entire cruise. You can only amend or cancel them up to four days before departure and no refunds will be given after this time. Others allow you to purchase packages up to four days before the END of the cruise. Service charges of up to 15% are added to package prices.